Cricket: McCullum cuts loose on opening day

By Kris Shannon

Brendon McCullum of New Zealand pulls during day one against Australia A. Photo / Getty Images
Brendon McCullum of New Zealand pulls during day one against Australia A. Photo / Getty Images

Brendan McCullum warmed up for the two-test series against Australia in style, racking up a rapid-fire 146 on day one of New Zealand's tour match against Australia A today.

McCullum smashed a solid Australia A attack to all corners of Allan Border Oval in Brisbane, needing only 115 balls in a knock which included 21 fours and six sixes.

He was eventually caught behind after attempting one aggressive shot too many but, by that point, the Black Caps were already in position to post a challenging first innings total.

Captain Ross Taylor saw his team through to 290-4 when bad light stopped play on a rain interrupted day after 67 overs. Taylor was on 45 not out with Dean Brownlie at the other end on 21.

Earlier, the tourists were sent into bat by Australia A captain George Bailey after the start of play was delayed by half an hour because of rain.

Taylor elected to test all four of his seamers against David Warner and Co meaning his predecessor, Dan Vettori, was relegated to 12th-man duty. He figured he knows what the 32-year-old with 106 tests under his belt can do and wanted his seamers to find their rhythm ahead of next week's first test on what is historically a green Gabba wicket.

McCullum immediately showed his intentions by cutting Australian international Ben Hilfenhaus for four on the first ball of the match and raced through to a run-a-ball 50 in the first session. He and opening partner Martin Guptill reached a century stand after just 19 overs, eventually putting on 148 before Guptill was caught at gully for a comparatively patient 43.

The setback didn't halt McCullum's progress and he brought up his century in the next over with a four through point, requiring just 85 balls to reach three figures. The milestone didn't appear to slow him, either, with the Otago batsman smacking his fifth six two balls later on what he said was a good batting deck.

"It was quite a good attack as well so it was nice to get away to a decent and positive start early on and try to put them under pressure, too," he said. "If anything, they bowled a touch short at the start. Once they pitched it up a little bit, they were a lot more dangerous. [Kane] Williamson's wicket was probably the perfect length to bowl on that sort of pitch."

Williamson (3) was trapped in front by James Pattinson, who was the pick of the Australia A bowlers, but that only brought Taylor to the crease and he and McCullum kept the scoreboard ticking over in drizzly conditions.

McCullum's lusty stroke-making finally caught up to him in the 39th over, when he swung wildly at a Hilfenhaus ball outside off stump and could only edge it behind to wicketkeeper Matthew Wade.

Jesse Ryder, who needs to find some form after recovering from a calf injury, added 22 before pulling a Ben Cutting delivery off his hip straight down the throat of deep backward square leg.

Play was halted when the bowler's run-ups were deemed too slippery and, although they came back for a further 26 overs, the weather had the last say and stumps were called after only 67 overs.

But thanks to McCullum the game is reasonably well advanced.

"We have got some pretty big aspiration [on this tour] but there is a lot of cricket to be played," he said. "From our point of view, we tried to start on an even keel with the Aussie A team. It was a matter of just going out there and trusting our own games and making sure we play as well as we can and seeing what that does with them.

"I think we managed to put them under pressure and we were probably just up on points as well."

- APNZ

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